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Algebraic Equations Drill – virtual and real

This post is probably more of a reflection on my teaching than anything. However, there are some resources included that may be of some use to others.

Regarding algebraic equations, I’ve stuck to my teaching strategy mentioned in the previous post. That is, my focus is on hammering the points on equations with an additional 1; listing all 5 here every lesson.

  1. There is an = sign (expressions don’t)
  2. LHS = RHS (balancing strategy)
  3. to solve for x, isolate it (make it the subject)
  4. use inverse or opposite operations to help isolate x
  5. during, check using points above; after, check by substitution

Once a fortnight, the class has ready access to computers. On that lesson, I got them to go to these resources:

  1. Equation Buster - balance equations Levels 1 to 4
  2. Balance LHS and RHS – balancing strategy
  3. Connect Four
  4. Solve equations in your head - good practice to get quicker

Then, we’ve done more work on the textbook to actually practice setting out equations.

I made a mistake in giving them a quiz where they can solve questions via Guess-and-Check (or Trial and Error), e.g. 3m=120. It’s a mistake in that the quiz did not really assess whether or not they can use algebraic techniques. It was not a good assessment of- nor for – learning …except mine….(no point sharing this quiz with you) …. but I digress….

Today, I gave them a worksheet and gave them the answers. This worksheet (PDF created using Exam Creator)  has 10 equations which included 1-step, 2-step, x on both sides and grouping symbols. I told the class to show using the ‘balancing strategy’ that the answer is right. This was a good tool for assessment for learning.

I heard comments like, ” I could do it on the computer but I’m confused now”.  I think this is because they get instant feedback every step of the way while on the computer. On paper, they have to get to the end. Herein lies one of the strengths of technology.

I also heard comments like, “Is that all? But it’s easy.”, while constantly repeating the 5 points above. For a class who still struggles with computational skills, they are doing rather well working with equations.

Anyway, my journey isn’t over.

Should I keep sticking to my strategy?

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